By Jaime Feal
Jon “Bones” Jones, the youngest ever UFC champion, defends his light heavyweight championship for the second time Saturday night, live from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Jones will be looking to do something that hasn’t been done in the light heavyweight division since Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell was champion: Defend the belt more than once. He faces a stern test in Lyoto Machida, who presents an unorthodox style and unique skillset, which some feel may finally give Jones his first competitive fight.
Featherweight Division (145 lbs.):
Mark “The Machine” Hominick (20-9, 1-1 UFC) vs. Chan Sung Jung (11-3, 1-0 UFC)
Hominick comes into the fight a huge favorite, being the only man to test featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo in either the UFC or WEC. Furthermore, Hominick excels at kickboxing and Muay Thai, and his opponent Chan Sung Jung loves to eat punches and trade. It could be an extremely short night for Jung, also known as “The Korean Zombie,” if he goes into zombie mode and doesn’t respect Hominick’s elite standup. Hominick is also a Canadian from the province of Ontario, so he will have insane crowd support in this fight. Jung needs to get it to the ground, as he did against Leonard Garcia, and look for a finish by submission. Otherwise it’s only a matter of how long his chin can keep him standing.
Prediction: Mark Hominick wins by TKO, round 2.
Welterweight Division (170 lbs.):
Claude “The Prince” Patrick (14-1, 3-0 UFC) vs. Brian “Bad Boy” Ebersole (48-14-1, 2-0 UFC)
Both these welterweights are on an absolute tear and may have forgotten what it’s like to lose. Patrick is riding a 13-fight win streak with 3 straight UFC victories, and Ebersole is on a 9 fight win streak with two straight in the UFC. Ebersole has a jaw-dropping resume of 63 professional fights, and he will need every bit of his cage savvy if he wishes to come out on top. Ebersole is a wrestling-based fighter, and it is essential he get this fight to the ground to unleash his ground and pound. Patrick will attempt to keep the fight standing where he has a significant advantage, and a raucous Ontario crowd will be supporting yet another one of their native sons when “The Prince” enters the cage Saturday night. This fight figures to be a war, as Ebersole’s experience will keep him in the fight against the more dynamic Patrick. Who wins will be determined almost entirely on how often Ebersole can take Patrick down and keep him there.
Prediction: Claude Patrick wins by split decision.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs.):
Tito Ortiz (16-9-1, 15-9-1 UFC) vs. Antonio Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira (19-5, 2-2 UFC)
UFC legend Tito Ortiz once again brings his trademark wrestling, cardio, and ground and pound into the Octagon. He will square off with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, also known as “Lil Nog,” which indicates the fact he is the light heavyweight version of his heavyweight twin brother Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Ortiz, quite frankly, hasn’t evolved much as a fighter since his early days in the UFC. Routinely complaining of back injuries after almost every one of his recent UFC fights, Ortiz is 36 years old and starting to show his age. He has always had problems when his opponent neutralizes his wrestling and can out-strike him. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” is at his best when he is able to score his powerful double-leg takedowns and throw his vicious elbows and ground strikes. Lil Nog will not let him do that, however, as he uses solid takedown defense, measured striking, and crisp boxing to score points while the fight is standing.
Prediction: Antonio Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira wins by unanimous decision.
Heavyweight Division (265 lbs.):
Frank Mir (15-5, 13-5 UFC) vs. Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (33-6-1, 4-2 UFC)
The Nogueira brothers will look to make it a clean sweep for the night as Big Nog and Frank Mir do battle in a rematch of their UFC fight from 2008. In that encounter Mir surprised pundits with his improved stand up and finished Nogueira for the first time in his professional career. Mir will try to utilize the same game plan this time, but Nogueira always has excellent boxing and shocked everyone when he knocked out rising prospect Brendan Schaub at UFC 134. Nogueira also had a staph infection going into his fight with Mir in 2008 and Big Nog looked extremely sluggish and worn out. Expect a much more competitive bout this time, with a back-and-forth fight highlighting not only striking, but also the two best heavyweight jiu-jitsu practitioners in the UFC.
Prediction: Frank Mir wins by unanimous decision.
Light Heavyweight Championship (205 lbs.):
Jon “Bones” Jones (14-1, 8-1 UFC) vs. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (17-2, 9-2 UFC)
Don’t be fooled by the one loss on Jones’ record, as he was obliterating Matt Hamill before he got disqualified for an illegal 12 to 6 elbow. “Bones” is essentially an undefeated fighter, tearing through everyone that has been put in front of him. In the past 12 months Jones submitted Ryan Bader with ease, took Shogun’s belt with a convincing TKO, and defended his strap with a dominant performance and submission against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Bookmakers have Jones at about a 5:1 favorite, and many pundits are calling him unbeatable.
Interestingly enough, Lyoto Machida, the former light heavyweight champion, was once considered “unbeatable” himself. After “The Dragon” knocked Rashad Evans unconscious to capture the title in 2009, he was not only undefeated, but hadn’t dropped a single round in his career. Machida brings a very interesting Karate style of fighting into the cage, which isn’t seen much in MMA these days. Lyoto looks to maintain distance and use his impeccable timing and counter striking to score points.
The problem he encounters in this fight, of course, is that Jones loves to play the distance game himself. The 6 foot 4 inch Jones has the longest reach in the UFC and an enormous wingspan, which will help keep “The Dragon” at bay. Machida excels when he faces less technical strikers such as Rashad Evans, Randy Couture, or Sokoudjou. In contrast, when Machida faces a high caliber and technical striker, such as Shogun, he has a very difficult time imposing his will. Jones also has more tools to win: He is more athletic, explosive, and a better wrestler. Machida’s only hope in the fight is to catch Jones on the button and finally test what Bones’ chin is made of.
Prediction: Jon Jones wins by TKO, Round 2.